Will We Lose It All?

I'm an American guy. You don't know me; I'm not famous. I have a family and the responsibilities that go with that, and I try to be a man who can be counted on. I don't always succeed, but I've always tried. I was born here, but you don't need to be native-born to be an American. In fact, that's kind of the point of it all. America is our home, our country, and our ideal. It is much less about where you are than who you are. It is the embodiment of a set of principles through which a disparate group of people became a nation, and that nation became the fulfillment of countless dreams.

This is such a unique thing we possess, this free way of life. Power granted to the government by the consent of the governed, not taken by force. The default setting for societies has always been a brutal mash of exploitation, oppression and unfettered greed. Whether couched in religion, geography, or tribe, the strong have always ruled the weak, and the wily take their cut off the top. But now we have leaders and laws chosen by process and debate, rather than the former staples of noble birth, graft, brute force, and intimidation. To be sure, a fair measure of those same flaws remain with us in our politics and governance, but they are not the norm, and they're usually driven out when discovered. This alone is enough to separate us from all previous attempts by man to bring order to human interaction...but wait, there's more.

Past societies have made dramatic leaps forward on the springboard of innovative concepts that we modern folk take for granted. The Magna Carta proved an indispensible foundation for western government, the Hammurabic Code a stepping stone to our rule of law. But past glories notwithstanding, no one has done what we have done. No one. Ever.

So knowing this, why are there so many in society willing to chuck it all in and forge ahead into a brave new world that looks and smells just like the fetid carcass of the cowardly Old World? Why would intelligent people knowingly choose less freedom for themselves and their children? Crudely put, it is because the idea of a fully free society with everyone making his own decisions simply chaps their asses. It is not enough for such people to be successful themselves; they must also have a hand in ordering the winners and losers amongst the rest of the players. So convinced are they of their own inestimable value that they cannot conceive of a world that doesn't need them. In their minds, they should be consulted before decisions are made; after all, look how successful they are. Clearly anyone who doesn't recognize this must be mentally defective, and we all know you don't have to take seriously the ramblings of an imbecile.

Sadly, you meet people like this every day: the know-it-all at the office, the busybody at church, or the irritating uncle that insists on dominating every discussion at the holiday table. Your neighborhood association board is a protected habitat for this species. Alone, and in these settings, such people are just a grating annoyance. However, group them together and allow them to hold taut the reins of power, and true danger quickly arises where mere pomposity once sat. The mechanisms of government carry with them the unspoken yet omnipresent threat of force. In a free society, the government holds a monopoly on force (lawfully granted by the people), and the people hold sway over the government. We have used this balance to ensure equitable treatment under the law with a great deal of success over the past two centuries.  A collar on the dogs of war, if you will, to which the governed hold the leash.

But what happens when the self-absorbed decide that our laws and ways are really just anachronistic barriers to their progressive real-think? If you're smart, you tremble for a moment, then gird yourself for a fight. If you recall the puritan ethos that H.L. Mencken described as having the haunting feeling that someone, somewhere, is happy, then you easily understand the sensibility of someone who cannot be satisfied with his own success unless it involves dictating to others how they must succeed as well. And not just any old success...it must be appropriate success. Success suited to one's station. (See affirmative action and virtually every other outcome-based folly of the Left.)

What sort of mind functions this way? Where do we find the bedrock of such a philosophy? Look first to human nature, and realize that with all our sophistication and technology, we still eat, crap, and fight much as we always have. We always will. Accept it. Madison said that if men were angels, no government would be needed. Of course, we know men are no angels; so we must ask, who will govern the governors? Many actors have played this role. Religion has been a lodestar for our leaders for the better part of 150 years. Honor and national pride have, too.

But perhaps more than anything, the vision of our founders as evinced in the Constitution has been the greatest bulwark against both the busybody and the tyrant. Behind that magnificently crafted wall we have found refuge, and in its protective shade our nation has grown into the example that has recast the world in its image.

This is how I feel: we are facing a busybody and tyrant in one, with the mighty machine of government at his command. Think of this article as a gentle slap on the back of the head to those of you who still say it can't happen here. We have been lied to continuously, with great eloquence. The gatekeepers have abandoned their posts and taken sides. The traditional means by which we have held our leaders to account have been overturned and replaced with a politburo-style stamp.

It's not enough for them to tell us what to do; they want to decide our thoughts for us, too.  After all, if we had any sense, we would beg for their advice, right? Make what you will of your ideas. Preach them to all who will listen. Gather support and make your case...but do not tell me you are doing X while I, along with everyone else, am watching you do Y. And we are watching.
I'm an American guy. You don't know me; I'm not famous. I have a family and the responsibilities that go with that, and I try to be a man who can be counted on. I don't always succeed, but I've always tried. I was born here, but you don't need to be native-born to be an American. In fact, that's kind of the point of it all. America is our home, our country, and our ideal. It is much less about where you are than who you are. It is the embodiment of a set of principles through which a disparate group of people became a nation, and that nation became the fulfillment of countless dreams.

This is such a unique thing we possess, this free way of life. Power granted to the government by the consent of the governed, not taken by force. The default setting for societies has always been a brutal mash of exploitation, oppression and unfettered greed. Whether couched in religion, geography, or tribe, the strong have always ruled the weak, and the wily take their cut off the top. But now we have leaders and laws chosen by process and debate, rather than the former staples of noble birth, graft, brute force, and intimidation. To be sure, a fair measure of those same flaws remain with us in our politics and governance, but they are not the norm, and they're usually driven out when discovered. This alone is enough to separate us from all previous attempts by man to bring order to human interaction...but wait, there's more.

Past societies have made dramatic leaps forward on the springboard of innovative concepts that we modern folk take for granted. The Magna Carta proved an indispensible foundation for western government, the Hammurabic Code a stepping stone to our rule of law. But past glories notwithstanding, no one has done what we have done. No one. Ever.

So knowing this, why are there so many in society willing to chuck it all in and forge ahead into a brave new world that looks and smells just like the fetid carcass of the cowardly Old World? Why would intelligent people knowingly choose less freedom for themselves and their children? Crudely put, it is because the idea of a fully free society with everyone making his own decisions simply chaps their asses. It is not enough for such people to be successful themselves; they must also have a hand in ordering the winners and losers amongst the rest of the players. So convinced are they of their own inestimable value that they cannot conceive of a world that doesn't need them. In their minds, they should be consulted before decisions are made; after all, look how successful they are. Clearly anyone who doesn't recognize this must be mentally defective, and we all know you don't have to take seriously the ramblings of an imbecile.

Sadly, you meet people like this every day: the know-it-all at the office, the busybody at church, or the irritating uncle that insists on dominating every discussion at the holiday table. Your neighborhood association board is a protected habitat for this species. Alone, and in these settings, such people are just a grating annoyance. However, group them together and allow them to hold taut the reins of power, and true danger quickly arises where mere pomposity once sat. The mechanisms of government carry with them the unspoken yet omnipresent threat of force. In a free society, the government holds a monopoly on force (lawfully granted by the people), and the people hold sway over the government. We have used this balance to ensure equitable treatment under the law with a great deal of success over the past two centuries.  A collar on the dogs of war, if you will, to which the governed hold the leash.

But what happens when the self-absorbed decide that our laws and ways are really just anachronistic barriers to their progressive real-think? If you're smart, you tremble for a moment, then gird yourself for a fight. If you recall the puritan ethos that H.L. Mencken described as having the haunting feeling that someone, somewhere, is happy, then you easily understand the sensibility of someone who cannot be satisfied with his own success unless it involves dictating to others how they must succeed as well. And not just any old success...it must be appropriate success. Success suited to one's station. (See affirmative action and virtually every other outcome-based folly of the Left.)

What sort of mind functions this way? Where do we find the bedrock of such a philosophy? Look first to human nature, and realize that with all our sophistication and technology, we still eat, crap, and fight much as we always have. We always will. Accept it. Madison said that if men were angels, no government would be needed. Of course, we know men are no angels; so we must ask, who will govern the governors? Many actors have played this role. Religion has been a lodestar for our leaders for the better part of 150 years. Honor and national pride have, too.

But perhaps more than anything, the vision of our founders as evinced in the Constitution has been the greatest bulwark against both the busybody and the tyrant. Behind that magnificently crafted wall we have found refuge, and in its protective shade our nation has grown into the example that has recast the world in its image.

This is how I feel: we are facing a busybody and tyrant in one, with the mighty machine of government at his command. Think of this article as a gentle slap on the back of the head to those of you who still say it can't happen here. We have been lied to continuously, with great eloquence. The gatekeepers have abandoned their posts and taken sides. The traditional means by which we have held our leaders to account have been overturned and replaced with a politburo-style stamp.

It's not enough for them to tell us what to do; they want to decide our thoughts for us, too.  After all, if we had any sense, we would beg for their advice, right? Make what you will of your ideas. Preach them to all who will listen. Gather support and make your case...but do not tell me you are doing X while I, along with everyone else, am watching you do Y. And we are watching.